First let us understand, What is Groundswell Technology Test ?
This test consists of five questions that need to be answered by a brand using any social media tool/application/technology.
1. Does it enable people to connect with each other? – If a tool/application/technology used by a brand makes people connect in more interesting, more varied or more frequent ways, then it has good potential for adoption. i.e. Can your tool/app spread virally, as existing participants recruit new people to join them.
2. Is it effortless to sign up for? -The technologies that succeed are the ones that are free and easy to connect up to technologies people already have. Eg: Signing up for Facebook
3. Does it shiftpower from institutions to people? -Technologies that mostly benefit companies don’t tend to catch on. Those that benefit people do. Eg: Facebook gave people power to connect without any supervision by company and Wikipedia allowed people to create content without expert approval.
4. Does the community generate enough content to sustain itself ? -All successful technologies make it easy for people to create content and to benefit from each others’ content.
5. Is it an open platform that invites partnerships? -This component of the test determines whether a product will wither or flourish. Closed platforms don’t evolve as fast because they don’t tap into the well of innovation that is the Web 2.0 development community. Eg: Open platforms like Facebook, which opened up its interfaces to application developers, get continual new functionality without so much work on the part of the founders.
We applied the above discussed Groundswell Technology Test on Shopkick, that lead us to the results as shown below:
Connect : Shopkick has no viral aspect since it an individual consumption drive reward application system used by an individual ontheir mobile device.
Effortless: Yes, it is very easy to sign up for Shopkick
Shift of Power: No, since companies/brands/corporates offer rewards thereby shaping consumer behavior, hence the power still lies with them and not the consumer/user.
Content: Yes, Shopkick generates individual purchase/consumption data, but it does not facilitate user generated content.
Open Platform: Shopkick is a partially open platform. At the most an individual user can just post share a facebook link inviting another user to join Shopkick there by giving both of them 50 reward points. Essentially Shopkick is still on “one-to-many” platform and is lacking a “many-to-many” platform.
Note: Our source of data for the five questions on Groundswell Technology test is from the book: “Groundswell, Expanded and Revised Edition: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies” by Authors: Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, ISBN number: 1422161986
Shopkick enables customers to get great rewards practically for free. The only thing customers have to do is to walk into a store, scan a product, or make a credit card purchase. The rewards you can redeem are very desirable, ranging from gift cards to a luxury cruise. Unfortunately, whenever something is desirable, people tend to try to get it whatever it takes. Therefore, some users of shopkick came up with ways to cheat the app. They get kicks for walk-ins without actually walking into stores and they get kicks for scanning products without scanning the actual products. There are even websites supporting such fraudulent activities.
Users post here pictures of bar codes so that other users don’t have to go into a store in order to scan products. They even post recordings of the inaudible sound that is played at store entrances for recognizing walk-ins. Those websites are a real threat to the business model of shopkick. The idea behind shopkick is to draw customers into the stores and to point their attention to specific products. Scanning barcodes from a website and faking walk-ins from home does not encourage the behavior that shopkick and the partnering stores desire.
Shopkick seems to have noticed those activities. The large amount of users commenting on the app about their ban from the app are an indicator for this. However, banning users is not the best possible solution. It reduces the number of users and might even hurt users by mistake that do not try to cheat the app.
Therefore, shopkick has to find better ways to prevent that type of fraud. One way to handle the recording and replay of the walk in sound, might be to install sound emitting devices that dynamically play the sound signal, i.e. changing the played sound after a certain time. In order to counteract the fraudulent barcode scanning from websites, shopkick could only allow scans after a customer has checked in to the store buy getting walk in kicks.
Whatever solution shopkick will find, it has to do something about the current situation. Otherwise, the value of the app for the stores will be diminished. That might lead to less desirable rewards, or more kicks required to redeem the rewards. This in turn might decrease the attractiveness of the app to users, leading to a break of the current popularity.